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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 08:51 GMT
Sequels dominate cinema calendar
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

As Hollywood prepares to unveil its latest raft of big budget sequels, cinemagoers can expect to feel a sense of deja vu once again in 2007.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 kicks off the summer blockbuster season
With more than half of 2006's most profitable films being follow-ups to existing franchises, last year's box office receipts have consistently disproved the adage that familiarity breeds contempt.

It is a lesson that has not been lost on the major Hollywood studios, who are preparing to bombard cinemas across the world with an even greater crop of sequels and remakes this year.

From Rocky Balboa in January to Spider-Man 3 in May through to the new version of horror classic Halloween, due for release in October, no month this year is free of at least one blast from the past.

And with everything from literary detective Nancy Drew to the popular Transformers toy receiving a big-screen makeover, the nostalgia craze shows no signs of abating.

Comeback

This is good news for Sylvester Stallone, who is counting on the sixth Rocky movie to revive his flagging career.

Catching up with his most famous creation 16 years after his last appearance, Rocky Balboa sees the Philadelphia pugilist come out of retirement to fight for the world heavyweight title.

Another iconic character set to make a comeback this spring is serial killer Hannibal Lecter - though not as we have seen him before.

Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Tarver in Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa sees Stallone (left) back in the ring after 16 years
Based on Thomas Harris's recently published prequel, Hannibal Rising charts the early years of the future cannibal and his first forays into mass murder.

New adventures for Rowan Atkinson's bumbling alter-ego Mr Bean and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will follow in March, as well as a sequel to last year's The Hills Have Eyes remake.

From May onwards, however, the stakes rise considerably as Hollywood gears up for what industry insiders predict will be the most competitive summer on record.

"It's going to be the biggest summer ever," said Screen International's Robert Mitchell.

"There are five films that are all massive brand titles, any one of which could be the biggest film of the year."

In addition to the aforementioned Spider-Man 3, audiences can also look forward to Shrek the Third, another Pirates of the Caribbean sequel and a fifth Harry Potter.

According to Mitchell, though, all could be outperformed by the long-awaited Simpsons film, scheduled to reach cinemas on 27 July.

Ambitious

"You're looking at a brand as well recognised as Harry Potter that broadcasts in more than 90 countries," he told the BBC News website.

"The show celebrates its 20th anniversary next year, and anybody who has ever been a fan will go and see it at least once."

Dominic West in 300
300 is based on a graphic novel by Sin City creator Frank Miller
Return engagements for the Fantastic Four, Matt Damon's renegade spy Jason Bourne and Bruce Willis's Die Hard cop John McClane continue the year's prevailing trend.

Though they are very much in the minority, however, 2007 will not be without the odd untested adventure.

January sees Mel Gibson's Apocalypto - an epic jungle drama told in the Mayan dialect - reach the UK after topping the box office chart in the US.

And March brings ambitious comic-book adaptation 300, a recreation of the ancient battle of Thermopylae using a combination of human performers and computer-generated imagery.

Regular cinemagoers, though, may find that even the non-sequel titles are starting to look alike.

Within three weeks of March, for example, cinemas will see the back-to-back release of The Good Shepherd, The Good Night and The Good German.

Film fans not wishing to get caught up in the sequel bonanza will have to pay close attention.


VOTE RESULTS
Which film sequel are you most looking forward to?
Pirates of the Caribbean 3
 57.72% 
Spider-Man 3
 42.27% 
44321 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Gibson epic is box office winner
11 Dec 06 |  Entertainment
Star Stallone donates Rocky props
06 Dec 06 |  Entertainment
Lecter to make literary comeback
19 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Willis 'back for fourth Die Hard'
03 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Spider-Man movies 'may continue'
24 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Python Idle joins cast of Shrek 3
13 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Ninja turtles 'return to cinemas'
19 Jul 05 |  Entertainment

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